Danish Defence Research Database


Soldier and Citizen

Project: Types of projects

The predominant classic approach to human rights violations done by security force in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), as represented by organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, is generally portraying the civilians as victims and the security forces as perpetrators. That is to be expected, since human rights abuses by security forces is widely known and reported from several internationally supported campaigns in MENA. However, very little research is concerned with human rights abuse within the security forces. Poverty, inequality, corruption and extortion are as real inside the armed forces as it is outside. Members of the armed forces, and in particular conscripted soldiers, are subjected to abuse and other unlawful practices which can lead to serious accidents, death, or suicide.
Furthermore, these practices seem to be institutionalized as a part of a wider military culture that is characterized by impunity for perpetrators and disrespect for the dignity of human beings (OSCE/ODIHR, 2008). Soldiers exposed to unlawful practices in their line of duty, have never experienced the value of enjoying lawful basic rights. Soldiers therefore have very little motivation, not to say understanding, for upholding human rights for others and instead most adopt a criminal military culture.
By investigating into the Iraqi Security Forces and the Malian Armed forces, this article evaluates the human right conditions “Inside the barracks” and subsequently seeks to clarify the causes. In both cases, the human right conditions are viewed through a military sociological lens with effort on the socioeconomic impact on the civil-military relation. The article finally suggests that impunity, corruption and extortion inside the armed force is a contributing cause when security forces commit crimes against the civilian population.
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